The radical Black Panther-turned—Christian never found a home in the evangelical world.
In June of 1965, inside Folsom Prison, Eldridge Cleaver wrote an essay that became the first chapter of his best-selling book, Soul on Ice (McGraw). In it, Cleaver described himself as “extremist by nature.” He was intense, aggressive, outspoken, combative, uncompromising.
Two decades later, the adjectives still apply. But the focus of his fury has changed radically.
In the 1960s, the American system had no greater enemy than Cleaver. As a leader of the militant Black Panther party, he worked for a Marxist overthrow of the democratic form of government. In 1968, he fled the country to avoid a prison term for a shoot-out with Oakland, California, police. For the next few years he toured Communist and Third World countries only to become disillusioned by the hypocrisy he found in communism.
Cleaver surrendered to U.S. authorities in 1975, and today the American system could not find a more loyal friend.
Cleaver is running for the U.S. House of Representatives as an ultraconservative independent in the radical Berkeley, California, area. He portrays his opponent, veteran black Democrat Ron Dellums, as a Soviet puppet.
“There is a war going on,” Cleaver warns. “The goal of communism is to take control of the world. President Reagan’s assessment [of this war] is not exaggerated. If anything, it is understated. We will never have peace and rest until the job is completed of bringing democracy to the whole world.”
Not a trace remains of the black activism Cleaver once so passionately embraced. He is an outspoken critic of presidential candidate Jesse Jackson.
“I don’t think the black community has received any kind of balanced view of what Ronald Reagan ...1
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